Sample Session

Dyeing Tints Sample Session of a Candied Fabrics Online Class

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Files to Save/Print

  • Available to registered students only! They include
    • A PDF of the entire session
    • Printable formula sheets allowing you to dye the session using 4 different sizes of fabric (from fat eighths to full yards) using either metric or imperial measurements, your choice!

In painting, a tint is achieved by adding white paint to any pure hue. With a bit of white an intense magenta becomes rose, add some more and it becomes pink. But painting is adding color that lays on the external surface of the substrate, be it wood, or canvas or fabric. In dyeing, we are adding a dye that penetrates the fibers, and then (with the addition of Soda Ash) is permanently linked to the fiber through something called a covalent bond.

Dyeing creates fabric that is colored all the way through, there is no “wrong side” of dyed fabric, and one of the reasons it is preferred by fabric artists who do fused appliqué with is that the cut edges are the same color as the rest of the piece, so there is no tiny flash of white around the edge.

Because they lay upon the surface, paints can be layered, and one hue can cover a hue that is underneath. Dyeing is completely different: it binds to receptive sites in the cellulose fiber that our cotton fabric is made from and adds to the color of the fiber, but doesn’t cover it up. Thus, if you start with a fabric that isn’t white, you will have to take into account the color of the base fabric. If the fabric is a light off white (like unbleached muslin) its effect on the final color will in most cases be negligible. But you could never take red fabric and dye it blue, the blue that you added would add to the red and you would have purple.

One of the most exciting things that make dyeing fabric 

my preferred way to color cloth is the visual texture I can easily achieve. The way I accomplish this is called Low Water Immersion Dyeing (LWI). A traditional dyebath (called full immersion) has a high volume of colored liquid and the cloth must be kept moving through it during the dye process. When complete, the fabric will be one even color. In LWI, the fabric is wet with just enough dye and soda ash solution and then physically manipulated in some way such that there are nooks, crannies and/or folds of all sorts for the dye particles to move in different ways before finally bonding to the fiber. What we’re left with is a glorious visual texture that is always unique, emphasizing the hand-made-ness of the fabric, and when used, helps the observer’s eye travel around the piece, which is usually a desired effect.

So when we want to make lighter, more pastel versions of a particular hue, we add water to the dye and then add it to our physically manipulated fabric. The less dye in the liquid, the more the white of the fabric can still be visible, thus the lighter the created tint.

Tints are a great place to start your fabric dyeing journey, because you only have to deal with one hue at a time. It’s also a great way try out new colors of dye. I recommend starting with the 3 primary colors. There are 3 or 4 versions of each primary color made and readily purchased from dye houses. For this class, I have chosen 3 primary color pure dyes that are easy to work with, some pure dyes are a bit temperamental. They are:

Code

Color Index Name

Dharma’s name

PROchem’s name

Yellow

yellow MX-8G

yellow 86

PR1 lemon yellow

#108 sun yellow

Red

red MX-5B

red 2

PR12 light red

#305 mixing red

Blue

blue MX-R

blue 4

PR26 sky blue

#400 basic blue

What’s all this fuss about pure dyes?

When you take a look at any site selling Procion MX dyes, you will see a long list of colors. The vast majority of them are mixtures made from the “pure dyes” I keep referring to, and often times some sort of neutral filler so that there will be less color on the finished fiber. These mixes for the most part change over time, and are unique to each company. As you will see when you begin mixing dyes in session 3, combining 2 pure dyes that are primary colors gives you lots of clear, bright, secondary hues. When you DON’T use pure dyes, you may inadvertently be adding colors that aren’t immediately apparent from the dye, but have an effect on the final color when you mix it with others. It has a confounding factor that is unnecessary. Plus, those filler they add so you can get lighter colors? Better to just use less dye! 

To summarize: Using pure dyes is simpler and cheaper.

Online Video: Introduction to Session 2

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Supplies for this session only

  • ½ cup Soda Ash
  • Dyestock of your 3 primary dyes, amounts given below for fat quarters, see the formula worksheets for the other amounts.

Color
Code Amount Needed Dharma’s name PROchem’s name

Yellow

yellow MX-8G

2/3 cup or 160 ml

PR1 lemon yellow

#108 sun yellow

“Red”

red MX-5B

2/3 cup or 160 ml

PR12 light red

#305 mixing red

Blue

blue MX-R

2/3 cup or 160 ml

PR26 sky blue

#400 basic blue

  • 4 ½ generous yards PFD, ripped into “fat quarters”
    • I will also provide you with the measurements to do this with “fat eighths” if you’d like to use smaller amounts, and half & full yards as well, for those who want to really build their stash!
  • Synthrapol or laundry detergent without bleach

Tools for this session only

  • A complete set of teaspoons/tablespoons or a much smaller measuring cup that accurately measures small amounts of liquid
  • 2 cup/500 ml measuring cup
  • 18 small-ish plastic containers (I used 3-cup/750 ml cheap generic “Tupperware” and recycled yogurt tubs)  Gallon ziploc bags also work, but be careful of leaks.
  • 3 dishpan size containers for rinsing  (5 & 10 gallon buckets recycled from pool chemicals or food service work great)

Safety Supplies

  • latex/rubber gloves
  • particulate filter mask
  • Apron/old clothes

A word about safety: all the chemicals we use are as safe as or safer than the stuff you use cleaning the bathroom. That being said, Procion MX in powder MUST be treated with RESPECT. It has never been tested for consumption, so you must scrupulously avoid the possibility of ingesting it. Any tool you use for dyeing should never be returned to your kitchen for cooking purposes. (Look on the bright side: this gives you the perfect excuse to re-purpose older kitchen utensils for dyeing and get some new ones for the kitchen!)

Procion MX is a very fine powder, and should not be allowed to come in contact with your skin or mucous membranes (especially your lungs). Prolonged exposure to the powder could cause your body to develop a severe allergic response to the dye, such that you could never use it again. As “prolonged exposure” is different for everyone, you have to minimize contact with the powder: Thus always wear a particulate filter mask and rubber or latex gloves when around the powder form of Procion MX and clean up any spills immediately! Common sense also tells us to wear old fabric you don’t mind getting dye on, just in case.                 

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Fabric Prep & Dyeing

We’ve already discussed preparing your fabric in session 1, so this is just a short reminder:

  1. Rip your fabric into fat quarters and label them, you’ll need 18 in all. For this session I suggest using a letter for each dye + the number of each container.
  2. Soak the fabric in your soda ash solution
  3. Once the fabric is fully saturated, wring them out and place them into individual small plastic containers.  I like to “scrumble” the fabric – I create lots of nooks and crannies for the dye to settle in, this is how I get my awesome texture. See the pictures and video for a good example of what “scrumpling” is – what it is NOT as balling the fabric up in a ball – this creates large areas that remain undyed, something I don’t find very attractive.
  • Lay fabric flat
  • Push the fabric together from all sides to create the scrumbling
  • Place the fabric in a container that creates a tight fit.

Online Video: Scrumbling

  1. Wearing your gloves, distribute the dye according to the chart you print off from the “formula sheet” provided in the downloads section of this session.

Online Video: Formula Worksheets

  1. Now add the amount of water specified in the recipe sheet; note that the total volume in each cup should be 60 ml or ¼ cup. 
  2. Gently pour each dye onto the fabric in its container. When you first do this there will be white spots. Using your gloved hands, push down and squeeze the fabric a couple of times, you should end up not seeing any white spots after just a couple of squeezes. Make sure to rinse off your gloved hands in between dyebaths! (If you go from lightest to darkest, this isn’t necessary until you switch colors.)
  3. If you want less visual texture on your fabric, massage it every 10-15 min. for the next hour or so. The less you massage, the more texture you get – so I just give it a quick one at the beginning and that’s it!

Online Video: Dyeing

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Batching

  1. Leave the fabric to either sit in the sun or in a warm part of your house. After 2 hours, if the dyes were kept at a warm room temperature, ~95% of the dye will have reacted with the fiber. You can wash the fabric then, or wait. I usually wait overnight to eke out that last little bit of dyeing (if your room is cool, the reaction will take longer). You also can leave these until you have time; it is at your convenience.

Washout & Enjoyment!

  1. One primary color at a time, dump the fabric in your sink (be careful of splashes, the dye can still stain your counter top, your grout and your fabric!!!) Rinse in cool water til the fabric loses its slippery feel and loses very little color when squeezed. When the slipperiness is gone, so is most of the soda ash, so the odds of any dye reacting with other fiber now are remote.
  2. To let the last bits of unreacted dye leave the fabric, let the fabric set in a bucket of water.
  3. Repeat this with your other 2 primary colors. 
  4. I often do a second round of soaking in cold water, and you can see that there’s a lot less excess dye by the end of this second soak: 
  5. After a few hours of sitting in water, wash them (altogether at this point) in the hottest temp your washing machine can do. I use a small amount of Synthrapol, which is a detergent that is sold to help keep any washed away dye particles from depositing on the other fabrics; but if you did that first soak in individual containers, you probably won’t need it and plain old detergent (without bleach!) will be fine.
  6. After the washing machine runs all the way through, I usually run it again, stopping it in the middle of the washing agitation, lifting the lid and scooping out some water in a clear glass. If you see no color, your washing days are over – if you do, back to the washing machine for you! 
  7. After they’re dry, ironed and folded, rearrange them again and again, because they’re just so much fun to play with! Note: if you are going to leave the Tyvec tags on the fabric, DO NOT iron over the tag!

Online Video: Rinsing

 

Finished Pictures

As, there’s nothing prettier than stacks of freshly dyed fabric! There are even more over at the gallery page!

Don’t forget to add your swatches to your swatch book! Print a new version of your worksheet onto cardstock and fill in the appropriate spaces. Cut a representative sample out of each piece and use glue, double sticky tape or staples to mount it to the cardstock. Inserting this into a plastic page protector will keep those swatches from being ripped off when you’re using your notebook later on.

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